Aug 19/97: Legislative discussion on Ipperwash inquiry



posted by Sandra Mitchell

AUGUST 19, 1997


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): My question is for the Deputy Premier. Yesterday, lawyers for the family of Dudley George issued notices of examination to the Premier and the Attorney General, requiring them to appear for questioning under oath in the civil lawsuit on the wrongful death of Dudley George.

Deputy Premier, to my knowledge, this is the first time a Premier has ever been subpoenaed to appear in such a very serious matter. You must have received your legal advice last night from your lawyers on whether you will try to obtain a judicial order that would get the Premier and the Attorney General out of testifying.

Can you tell us now, will the Premier appear at the hearing and answer questions put to him concerning the wrongful death of Dudley George? If your government has nothing to hide about your involvement in the death of Dudley George and the Ipperwash affair, then let the Premier go to the hearing and answer the questions.

Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I'm sure the leader of the third party is aware that this matter is before the civil courts. I certainly don't have any indication of what the Premier's personal decision will be. I would assume that counsel for either side or all parties in a civil lawsuit will iron out these matters.

Mr Hampton: I thought it was a rather simple question, and I hope the Deputy Premier can come up with a more definitive answer. We spoke with the lawyers who represent the George family, and from their perspective the facts are clear: In the past, the OPP always took the approach of trying to avoid confrontation at protests like the one at Ipperwash, and from their perspective it was because of the direction of the Premier via his executive assistant, Deb Hutton, to have the occupiers removed from the park, nothing else, that the OPP suddenly changed their long-standing role of communicating with the protesters.

What you did is you took away the non-confrontational tools that the OPP had at their disposal and you said very directly to them, "Get the natives out of the park."

I put it to you again, Deputy Premier, will the Premier appear at the hearing to answer the questions?

Hon Mr Eves: With respect to the exact question the honourable member asks, I certainly have no knowledge of the Premier's personal intentions. However, I will comment on the preamble to his question.

He's very well aware of the minutes of a meeting of the interministerial committee on September 6, 1995. He's also very much aware of the three ministerial directives that came out of that meeting.

They are: from the Ministry of Natural Resources, "The minister wants to act as quickly as possible to avoid further damage and to curtail any escalation of the situation"; from the Ministry of the Attorney General, "The minister agrees that application will be made for an injunction"; from the Solicitor General's ministry, "As a matter of protocol, the Solicitor General's office does not involve itself in the day-to-day operations of the OPP. The OPP will exercise its discretion regarding how to proceed in removing the Stony Pointers from the park and laying appropriate charges."

Mr Hampton: I think the quotations the Deputy Premier has read into the record add a little further to this. You see, nowhere does it say in the directives from the Solicitor General that the OPP should consider whether to remove the protesters out of the park. It doesn't say that. That's the problem. The Premier has given the direction: "Get the natives out of the park." That was the direction from the Premier through his executive assistant. The ministerial work that follows from there is all on the premise, "Get the natives out of the park."

What the Solicitor General did was leave it up to the OPP on how to get the natives out of the park, but you've taken all the other options away. You said, "No discussion." Even in terms of an injunction, you did not allow for discussion. It was hardball all the way. That was a specific change in the OPP approach. They had never taken that approach before; only on the direction of your government.

Will the Premier attend and answer the questions -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Leader of the third party, please come to order.

Hon Mr Eves: As I've said and I say again, the Premier will make his own personal decision as to what he does with respect to a particular civil lawsuit.

I would like to further add to the last preamble that the honourable member made. I'm not going to try to interpret the words of an individual, the observations that they made of what somebody else supposedly said or didn't say over two years ago. I think the ministerial directives coming out of that meeting speak for themselves. The OPP certainly acted on their own. They were given no direction, either by the Solicitor General or by anybody else, as to how they should proceed. That's the end of the matter.

The Speaker: New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: I would say to the Deputy Premier, there's a way to answer all these questions: Hold a public inquiry. Let's get all the information out.

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